30 Mar 2010

Fiji loses millions in EU aid with extension of sanctions against Suva

4:57 pm on 30 March 2010

Fiji has lost access to tens of millions of dollars in aid from the European Union after it decided to extend sanctions by six months.

The EU move is to put pressure on the military regime in Suva to return to democracy and respect human rights.

The EU says the decision follows the delay in implementing commitments the Fiji authorities made to the EU, notably concerning the abrogation of the constitution, human rights violations and the postponement of parliamentary elections.

The EU says it considers the extension of the measures as an opportunity for new discussions with the government of Fiji.

But the advisor to the delegation of the European Union in New Zealand, Lucy Ross, says so far Fiji has not upheld its agreements with the EU:

"The EU looks forward to Fiji returning to a democratic timetable and this is a solid commitment with obvious and evident steps in place towards elections. That's what we are looking for and the EU stands ready to engage with Fiji to bring this to happen."

Ms Ross says the EU will maintain humanitarian aid and direct support to civil society in Fiji.

But she says as long as the commitments on human rights and the rule of law are not fulfilled there will be no money under the European Development Fund, so a sum of some 40 million US dollars is on hold.

There will also be no funding to help Fiji's sugar industry at this stage, although between 2006 and this year 86 million US dollars would have been available.

All the sugar aid, except for the 38 million US dollars available for 2010, has now expired.